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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

203rd MPs heading to Iraq

The 203rd Military Police Battalion, an Alabama Army National Guard unit based in Athens, mobilizes this week and will deploy to Iraq.

A departure ceremony for the 70-member unit is set for June 19 at 4 p.m. on Beasley Field at Athens State University. In case of inclement weather, the program will be moved to the gym of Athens Middle School.

Athens Mayor Dan Williams will attend the ceremony along with Lt. Col. Charles H. Buxton, commander of the 203rd MP Battalion. Brig. Gen. Charles Gailes, Jr., commander of the 31st Chemical Brigade, and Maj. Gen. A.C. Blalock, adjutant general of Alabama, will attend along with State Sen. Tom Butler.

The 203rd heads to Fort Bliss, Texas for specialized training before shipping overseas. In Iraq, the unit will perform military police security missions. More than 300 members of two companies from the 203rd MP Battalion served in Iraq from mid-2006 to October 2007.

The general public is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony to show support for Soldiers of the 203rd and members of their families.

More than 14,300 Alabama Army and Air Guard members have been called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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